iPhoneography: when in doubt, shoot first, compose later

We cover all sorts of things in this iPhoneography series. Everything from creativity and photographic principles to apps and gear. I had planned on carrying on with the theme of our previous two lessons about composition (the rule of thirds and the golden ratio) but then I saw this deer, and my entire lesson changed.

I have been meaning to write something like this for a while, so I figured there is no time like the present. It will be a short lesson.

If you’d like to see the video about how I processed this image feel free to watch it. I also share a few tips about sharpening with Snapseed.


Today’s lesson is a simple, yet important one. In moments like this, when a deer let’s you walk up to take its picture, get the shot first, then worry about all the things we have talked about in the previous lessons. My buddy calls these ‘prophylactic images’. A ‘prophylactic image’ is a quick image to cover your bases. That way, if the deer decides to walk off, or turn its less attractive side to you, you have the shot.

Now, these type of images aren’t restricted to wildlife. Obviously, they are applicable to people (especially fast moving children) as well. But those aren’t the only things. Nope, covering your bases can apply to landscapes. As you continue on in your photographic life and become hyper aware of the light around you, you will realize that it is always changing. If you see beautiful light, and you think it’s going to change soon, make a quick image then worry about the principles of composition we have discussed in previous lessons.

Here is another example of acting quickly, composing later. I watched as this beautiful little butterfly flew past my head and landed on the grass. I didn’t even think, I simply grabbed what I could. As you can see in this first image, it wasn’t anything to write home about. However, if she were to fly off, at least I would have a photo.

I continued to making images as she proved to be very photogenic. I probably made a dozen or so images, each improving on the next as I worked my way closer and closer. Finally I made this image! It’s one of my all time favorite images (iPhone or otherwise). You won’t always get this image, but get one and continue to work until you get the one you want.


I was having a hard time coming up with a good hash tag for this project when I was sitting down on Sunday night, wondering why Breaking Bad was a repeat (I’m not happy about waiting until next summer to wrap it up) and then it hit me!

Make sure to tag your Instagram photos with #iDBigotIt so we can call follow along.

This week will be pretty open and it is intended to showcase your own creativity. I’ll be picking a few of my favorites to showcase in our next lesson. We will see you back here in two weeks with a new app I’m diggin!

Justin Balog is an award winning photographer and filmmaker. You can follow is daily creative adventures at HOSSedia.com or learn more about iPhone Photography in his iBook ‘Big World Little Lens‘. Click Here for the iPad Version.